Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3 review: Folding it right
Foldables are clearly emerging as a new segment in the smartphone space. And Samsung, thanks to its head start, now has a clear advantage and is ahead of other companies when it comes to being close to devices that will have mass appeal, and demand.
The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold, the South Korean tech giant’s foldable flagship, is now in its third iteration, clearly a more refined version of what it started out as. After a few days with the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3, this review attempts to answer all the questions prospective buyers would have about this new device.
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3 price in India: Rs 1,49,999
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 specifications: 7.6-inch Dynamic AMOLED 2x foldable display | a 6.2-inch AMOLED display on the outside | a 12MP triple-camera rear setup | Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 SoC | 4,400mAh battery
How is the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3 different?
Now, this is a question quite a few people have asked. But the answer is simple. It is better, it is thinner and lighter. In other words, the third version of the Fold is much more refined and visibly so. The hinge, which earlier used to look like an appendage, is now seamlessly integrated into the design. The phone, when closed, fits much better in your hand. The folded Fold 3 also feels more like a Samsung galaxy device now that the front screen is almost edge-to-edge.
How good is the in-screen camera design?
The big design change is when you open the Fold3 and use the larger screen. The front-facing camera here is behind the screen and eliminates the need for a notch or hole. But you can see the small round when you are on a white screen though it will not hamper your experience in any way. And when you switch to the front camera this suddenly comes to life with a spark around the screen — quite a spectacle and something you will enjoy every time. Also, this new tweak makes the larger screen of the Fold3 much more usable.
Is the crease on the folded screen gone now?
The crease is very much there, though subdued. After having seen many foldable over the past couple of years I am not sure the crease will ever go away. That would have to be a wonder of physics if at all. Companies will however try to make them less visible though. On the Z Fold3, the crease is visible more when you are on a white screen, like when checking Gmail. On colourful screens, it sort of vanishes at least stays out of sight.
How is the performance of the Z Fold3?
The Z Fold 3 is a flagship in every sense. Powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 888, this is the best you can get on an Android phone. And frankly, the Fold3 does better because this is a phone that does multi-tasking better than anything you can hold in your palm at the moment. On the open screen, you can have up to three apps running simultaneously — I tried many combos from YouTube with Gmail and browser to Music with notes and browsing — and it just works like a dream with no stutter or lag. You can drag and drop elements from one app to the other, something that is near impossible on a regular phone. If you are the kind of person who does a lot of work on the go, you will love how responsive this phone is.
How can you use the Fold3 differently?
One of the best parts about the Fold3 is the flex mode, where you keep the phone partially unfolded and not spread out the screen. In this mode, a part of the screen is upright in a 90-degree angle and the rest is below. On YouTube, for instance, this mode offers you the ability to watch a video on the facing screen as you scan comments below — both halves independent of the other.
This mode also works well on the camera where you are clicking and getting the results as you do so. Also, in this mode, the controls on the camera don’t come inside the frame as we are used to. You can also get the cover screen to preview what you are shooting. All this takes the Fold3 camera to a whole different level for those who know how to make good use of these features.
How good is the camera?
When someone asks me this, I want to respond by asking: “Does it really matter in this phone?”. But anyway, people do tend to take the camera seriously on all their phones. The Fold3 is a flagship and the camera is not something we should really worry about. The rear camera for me is close to what the S series does and will not disappoint you. However, it will surely leave you confused — do you click photos with the phone closed or open? Whatever you do, the photos to come out to be good no matter the conditions.
The front-facing camera inside left me disappointed though. With the monsoon making it really cloudy in the week I reviewed the phone, the images were a bit too grainy for my liking. So there is a compromise to having pushed the camera behind the screen. In fact, I would have just skipped this camera altogether as the front-facing camera of the folded phone is pretty good even in low light.
Does the S-Pen work on the Fold3?
Yes, the Fold3 is compatible with the S-Pen provided you have one designed for this phone. If you like me have an old one then it will not work here and it is recommended you don’t try to as it could damage the screen.
What are the issues you have to keep in mind?
My big issue with using the Fold series phone is that it is a hard phone to use with a single hand, especially if you are using the larger screen. When the phone is folded, it is near impossible to open it with one hand. Maybe, in a year or two, Samsung will add a spring that opens the phone with a click. Also, you cannot close it with one hand — which is another issue in our multi-tasking lives.
Samsung has made this phone waterproof which is great. But you still need to be extra careful with this phone. The folding screen is still a relatively fragile piece of hardware that needs to be shown some love and care. So remember nothing gets stuck inside the screen when you are folding it or nothing falls on the screens when it is open.
How do you use the Fold3?
Yes, this is not a regular phone. And do not buy this thinking it will sync right away with what you do. This year I have used the Fold for longer than before and have a different take. It is best to keep the Fold3 folded for all your regular use on the go, from taking calls to checking Whatsapp messages and even replying to some emails. You unfold the Fold3 when you have to do more, let’s say watch a full movie on Netflix or work on a Google Sheet, or make a new Microsoft PowerPoint file. You don’t need to unfold otherwise.
If you get into the routine of using the phone like this you would have optimised yourself for this new form factor. Also, your battery will last more if you use the large screen lesser. Otherwise, this phone will give you about 12 hours of juice on a full charge.
So, who should buy the Fold3?
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3 is not a phone for everyone. But the power users, those who are thinking of using one device in place of the two they have now, will love this. It is for those who make money from being productive on the go, wherever they are. No, you are not going to pay the extra bucks for the ability to give a preview of your photos as you click them or to see comments flow on a YouTube streaming video. Those are just fringe benefits of a new form factor.